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Dollar 717i and friends review/comparison


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#1 HenryLouis

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 18:49

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Intro: I had first heard of Dollar fountain pens while I was browsing Youtube looking for fountain pen videos. Alas, I found hisnibs's videoon the dollar pens. I wasn't crazy about them at that time, well… Not crazy enough to pay what he is charging. Alas, I collected some more pens and the dollars somewhat were forgotten. Dollar pens are made in Pakistan.



So I saw in the for sale forum, a member (smeden) had some dollar demonstrators for sale initially. Now, the entire dollar line up is for sale (at great prices), and I will be reviewing all of them here.



Appearance and Design:

Dollar 717i/Demonstrator:
Capped: 12.6 cm
Uncapped: 11.6 cm
Posted: 14.6 cm



Student Pen

Capped: 12.6 cm
Uncapped: 11.6 cm
Posted: 14.6 cm



SP-10

Capped: 13.8 cm
Uncapped: 12.5 cm
Posted: 15.6 cm



They're all pretty nice pens. Obviously not in the highr ange of fountain pens, but pretty well built. I'd say about ashigh quality of a Lamy Vista… Plastic is nice, but I have a feeling it's not as robust as the Vista's plastic…. But at 1/3 of the price, what can you complain about? Piston fillers, which are always nice, the SP-10 has an integrated converter type piston filler, with a sliding motion instead of a twist on the others. All require you to remove a blind cap of some sort to fill. They are available in different colors, and thedemonstrator even has feeds to match (blue pen, blue feed). Interesting… TheSP-10 is quite large, but quite robust. It has a plastic that is a bit less smooth as the ones on the other pens, and it seems much more sturdy. Thestudent pen and SP-10 are snap caps, but the SP-10 is a bit more robust, I think. The 717i and demonstrators have a twist cap which adds class to the pen. At first, I thought that the 717i is the italic version, but this is not true.It's the regular version.

The Dollar studentpen has a flat top design, but the top has a polygon shape which is cool...

The 717i has more of a streamlined design...

The SP-10 has white end parts. The bottom end reminds me of the Lamy 2000 slightly. It looks cool, nonetheless.



Colors (717i):

The Red is a nice burgundy ish color. The blue is a good,medium blue. The grey is pretty nice, shiny and almost sparkly. Well, not so much. It's a decent color and a nicer grey than I would have expected.

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Nibs:

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This is the interesting part. Dollar makes 3 types of nibs.The iridium point steel nib, which is found on the SP-10 and 717i and demonstrator. These nibs are usually wet with a touch of feedback. Good for notes, I'd say. I have one inked with me when I go to school as a back up pen or in case I want a change from the pen I'm using… They write a F-M line, which is a bit more on the M side. Still, good for notes, and probably the best looking nib from all of them.

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The Dollar Arabic/Hebrew italic nib is a left oblique, which is meant to be held at an angle so thick and thin lines can be made. Not sure if it is tipped, and this nib is a bit smaller than the iridium point Dollar nib. There is good line variation, albeit a bit sensitive to pressure.




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The Dollar Studentpen nib is an untipped nib. It has steel bent in a way to get a point. It probably wouldn't last a long time, but forwhat they probably go in Pakistan it isn't such a big deal, you could get more. Plus, it has a good amount of flex. Not as much as my Reform 1745, but more than the other Dollar pens. Notthe best looking nib, but a great nib if you want to just have a pen for othersto borrow. Writes a tad wetter than the iridium nib…




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Filling System:

These pens all use a piston to fill:



The Dollar Demonstrator, Studentpen and 717i all use apiston filling system that requires you to remove a blind cap. A cool thing about the 717i/demonstrator is that if you post the cap, you can remove the blind cap that way. I haven't had a problem with stiff pistons, and they hold quite a bit of ink. I like to see the demonstrator partially filled, the ink isquite lustrous sloshing inside the barrel! However, you can't do the blind cap removal with the pen cap. And it's plastic isn't as strong as the 717i, Ithink. However, you can see through the plastic and see it's ink level, which cannot be done with any of the other dollar pens. Nevertheless, the ink viewwindows are good on all the pens.




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The SP-10 is the largest dollar pen but I have a feeling itholds the least ink. The piston system is more of an internal slide converter.It reminds me of those parker slide converters. You need to remove the back endof the pen to fill it, and to see the ink level. Overall, not great compared tothe others.
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Cost and Value/conclusion:

You must be crazy not to recommend one of these at the pricesmeden is charging. $7.25 is a great deal for these pens. I think around $10shipped as well is a great price, and shipping is fast. Hisnibs's price I thinkincludes nib tuning by him, so I guess the extra money goes to that. But Ihaven't had a problem with the stock dollar nibs. I was waiting for a decentseller on the FS forums before I would have bought them. Hopefully this reviewwill convince you to buy some of these great pens too. They'd make great for afirst pen, as the blind cap means that inexperienced users won't activate thepiston (like the reform 1745) and the fact you can see everything inside thedollar demonstrator means the same people will know how it works, and hopefullynot have accidents…



A link to his for sale thread:

http://www.fountainp...ns-from-smeden/

Edited by HenryLouis, 23 January 2010 - 20:46.

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#2 Nikhil

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 18:56

I really like the 717i I had, but I gave it to a friend. Mine had a super rough piston though, the roughest I have ever used
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#3 vans4444

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 20:09

I have been using a transparent Dollar 717i for the last couple of days, bought from a FPN member in Finland.

I fully agree with your review. It is certainly not the best pen in the world but fantastic value for money. The nib is acceptably smooth and the piston works well.

It looks very small, but I have just put it next to a Pelikan 400NN and it is almost exactly the same size posted and capped.

#4 Ed Ronax

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 00:28

Excellent review, thanks.
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#5 dandelion

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 01:27

Thanks for another excellent and informative review, Henry! A very pleasant read - your English teacher must be very satisfied with your writing skills! :) (that sounded very much like a boring old aunt remark, but I really think you have a talent for writing).
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#6 jorgerp1

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 08:58

Nice pens and nice pics too :thumbup:

#7 bluemagister

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 16:07

I love the photos! I can really see how the pen looks when it hits paper! Thanks for such an excellent review!!

#8 MYU

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 19:12

Thanks for making this rather overdue comparative exposure of the Dollar pens, Henry. Nicely done. :thumbup:

I'd agree that, from what I've seen, that the clear plastic is not quite on the level of the Lamy Vista. Although the nibs look like they're well made. I'd like to see a "long term use" evaluation of those Dollar nibs someday. There's no question that Lamy's nibs are extremely durable and long lasting.

Regards,
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#9 HenryLouis

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 05:53

Thanks for the input! I liked my shots of the nib writing too... they're my faves from this bunch
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#10 jleeper

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 16:11

Thanks, Henry. I've got three on order, can't wait.
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#11 cpsantillan

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 23:16

Thanks for the review!!!I have a dollar demo that I got from smeden at a really good price,it has a really smooth nib and better than my safari,what I don't like is the plastic,pretty cheap looking compared to the vista,but for the money is a good deal :thumbup:
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#12 Pen Is Mightier

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 20:44

Hey thanks for the review, been wanting to see one for the Dollar pen since I saw a video of it on youtube. Now I have one and it is a fun pen to write with, still trying to work out a couple of kinks with it but I think it might turn into my everyday writer.
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#13 Ondina

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 18:38

The most comprehensive review I've seen on the whole Dollar pen range. Very nice one. Thank you.

#14 photosphera

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 13:54

Hi, where can I buy a Dollar clear demo?

Regards,

Stefano

Edited by photosphera, 04 February 2010 - 13:55.

Today in hands:

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Vistonti Van Gogh crystal
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Stipula Giardino di Boboli LE
Parker 75 Cisele Vermeil
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Pelikan M1000
Dollar clear barrel
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#15 jleeper

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 21:57

Several places, check the For Sale forum here. Both Henry and I got them from a vendor there.

Swisher Pens and HisNibs.com also sell them.
Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. -- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Justice of U.S. Supreme Court (1902 -1932)

#16 Dr Lopez

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 22:06

Hi, where can I buy a Dollar clear demo?

Regards,

Stefano



Ask "smeden" member here, I got mine from him.
In my current rotation:
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#17 spattznatt

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 04:44

I have also bought a Dollar demonstrator. The pen writes smoothly and is a relatively good deal for the cost. However, I have experienced one problem with the pen which has limited my use of it. Typically I carry my pens in my backpack or in a vest pocket and the pen would "leak" ink in either situation. The "leaking" is not a true leak given that the area with the cap would have ink spattered through it when I pulled the pen out. There has never been any ink escaping into a pocket or into my bag. The problem with the "leak" is I would have to clean the pen before using it. Since this was to be my take everywhere/no worries if it is lost pen, the "leak" makes it not be able to function in my intended use. Otherwise I am very happy with the pen. Starts every time and lays down a clean line. Great little pen for the price.

Spattz

#18 andyk

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 19:48

Hi,

I think smeden is also selling them on ebay now as well, so he probably has a good supply.

By the way great reviw and photos Henry, these are nice cheap pens that write pretty well, with none of the worries of staining an expensive demo.

Andy

#19 fabrimedeiros

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 05:05

Henry, thanks for the review! Your reviews are always very interesting and nice! My FP collection is almost all piston fillers, which I like a lot. I've ordered 2 demos from "Smeden", but they didn't arrive yet.

Those Dollar Demostrators will stay beside my M205 Clear Demo.

Is it possible draw out the nib? Do you know how? I'm talking about that, because without nib is possible to lube the stiff piston filler with pure silicone grease.

Regards,

Fabricio

#20 smeden

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 06:55

Henry, thanks for the review! Your reviews are always very interesting and nice! My FP collection is almost all piston fillers, which I like a lot. I've ordered 2 demos from "Smeden", but they didn't arrive yet.

Those Dollar Demostrators will stay beside my M205 Clear Demo.

Is it possible draw out the nib? Do you know how? I'm talking about that, because without nib is possible to lube the stiff piston filler with pure silicone grease.

Regards,

Fabricio


These pens were sent on April 16 so even with the air traffic disruptions due to the ash cloud in mind it has taken way too long. PM me if you don't receive your pens during next week.

It is possible to just pull out the nib and feed from the Demonstrator. They are press fitted so this is quite easy if you have a firm grip and pull hard. But the piston in these pens is generally very smooth so lubrication should not be needed.






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